Updated A/N (30/10/2009): After not reading Bleach for almost 3 years, I have finally caught up with the remaining chapters. Hence, chapters 1-18 in my fic, which were finished on 15/10/2005, are to be considered AU. Thank You for reading.

Disclaimers: Inspired by chapter 118, then 179. Spoilers all the way from chapter 118 onwards. It all started out as a whim. Bleach is the sole property of Kubo Tite. I only own this fanfic.

A/N: Words in Italics denotes personal thoughts (hence scenes of the past are in this font, as they are being remembered).

Onigoto (in the Edo period) was derived from a court ritual (oniyarai) to drive away demons that cause disasters. It means 'tag' or 'blindman's buff'.

The storyline is a mingling of past and present that eventually merges. Apologies for this short prologue. The length of chapters depends on how the story pans out along the way and could vary. To make the scenes clearer:

Followed by words in this font ---Past

Followed by words mainly in this font ---Present.

Prologue

An eerily bright globe suspended in dusky heavens amidst a sea of quiet was a pleasing sight. Admiring the tranquil atmosphere was a favourite hobby for the man with a somewhat damaged striped hat, accompanied by a sleek black cat. Perched on an iron balcony with faded peach-coloured chips flaking off it, the biped was having a harder time maintaining balance beside his feline companion.

"I've done all I can with the boy in this limited time, Yoruichi-san. The rest is up to you."

"Don't worry. If his potential is as great as you say, everything should work out. I will definitely help him the entire way."

Slight shuffling was heard as reaching beneath moss-green robes, the first speaker attempted to blow his nose in a retrieved handkerchief and stay upright at the same time. Flapping both arms frantically as he began swaying back and forth like an unstable pendulum, his friend had to restrain herself from laughing at the ridiculous sight, him reminding one of a panicking plucked chicken before it got shoved off a plank into hot water.

"Woah... that almost sounded like a promise. Just like you swore not to leave the Correction Corps or Special Covert Op-"

"Kisuke. This is not the time to start-"

"Especially when you believed so strongly in your role there. I was the exiled one, not you; you didn't have to-"

"Urahara Kisuke!"

That feral snarl was like a gunshot signal for the two to start glaring at each other. It didn't last for more than five seconds before narrowed yellow slits were directed towards the moon once more.

"Fine, I'll admit I'm not exactly the type with a dedicated attention span-"

"More like a much shorter form of perseverance."

"You mean 'commitment', Mop-head. I may be terrible at it-"

That kind of reply from her nearly flustered him into toppling off entirely. Barely managing to stay seated by hunching forward, his intended interruption was disrupted by this rare bit of frankness in place of her usual honesty.

"But at least I could stay true all this while to our friendship, though why I continually put up with your endearing nonsense makes me think I'm mad at times."

"Isn't the evasive issue also one of the main reasons why you left in the first place?"

Silence was now a coating of frosty hardness one could barely cut through with a chainsaw.

"The punishment wasn't fair on you. I'm not about to throw aside my best friend, neither can I stay where injustice prevails."

"Yet you're about to return to the place you could never forget in all these centuries. Soi Fong will be there, Yoruichi-san. So will he."

"Ichigo will succeed. That is all that matters now. Then I will return."

"It was never fair on him."

"Concern yourself with your student instead. Goodnight."

Bounding off the railing to land noiselessly on cracked concrete, furry mink disappeared into the darkness.


That extremely talented human was now her problem. Cursing beneath her breath while speeding towards the white tower gleaming like an over-polished blade, Yoruichi was furious at herself for not paying closer attention to Kurosaki Ichigo. The foolhardy youngster would definitely end up dead if she didn't intervene. Despite the anger and accumulating frustration, none of it was evident on her face. She had learnt to wear the mask of superficial deception that she despised.

Damn you, Kisuke. Damn you for this hotheaded student, along with your crackpot ideas and plans, especially your suggestions...